Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane November 24, 2010

Roles reversed as Ashes battle arrives


Match Facts

November 25, Brisbane
Start time 10:00 (00:00 GMT)

The Big Picture

The latest instalment of the 133-year Australia-England battle begins with one team trying to form unity out of disarray and the other hoping their perfect preparation turns into an Ashes win. In modern times it has been England who have had to agonise over injuries and form issues, but this time it is the hosts who have all the major issues.

Ricky Ponting's men start the series on a three-game Test losing streak, a sequence of results that hasn't occurred since 1988. That was also the year that Australia last lost at the Gabba. If England can re-write that part of history they will have a huge advantage over the rest of the series, which they only need to draw to keep hold of the urn.

England's tour has been incredible so far, with a couple of warm-up wins, including a strong performance against Australia A, and a draw. Almost all of their men are in form and their position has been so powerful that they sent their bowlers to Brisbane a few days early to acclimatise. If they have lost a bag in transit it would rate as their biggest setback.

The last time Australia lost the Ashes at home was in 1986-87, back when Ricky Ponting was 12 and Andrew Strauss was living in Victoria. Given the build-ups of the sides and the changes Australia have undergone, this is England's best chance for success. If they don't take it over the next seven weeks they will have to wait decades to run into their enemies at such a vulnerable stage.

Form guide

(most recent first)

Australia LLLWW
England WLWWW

Watch out for...

The destination of the Ashes almost relies on Mitchell Johnson's left hand. If he can bounce and frighten, and hurry and worry, England's batsmen then Australia will be more than halfway towards regaining the Ashes. If he is as loose as he was in the 2009 series, the locals will struggle to contain England's complementary batting order. The signs were good last week when he mixed a five-wicket haul with a century for Western Australia, but now he's back in the big time.

Stuart Broad was responsible for turning the Ashes last time and he carries the same power again. A bowler first, he is capable of bowling full for swing or changing his length to force the batsmen back. As a run-maker, he is strong and entertaining, and it is a shame his century against Pakistan at Lord's was sullied. His father Chris was responsible for lifting the urn in 1986-87, and the family name will never be forgotten in England if Broad can do it too.

Team news

Michael Clarke's back is the major worry for Australia but he has proved his fitness and Ponting does not consider him a risk. Peter Siddle will play his first Test since January after beating Doug Bollinger for the final bowling spot, and Xavier Doherty will make his debut. Usman Khawaja and Doug Bollinger are heading to Perth after the toss to play for New South Wales.

Australia 1 Simon Katich, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Xavier Doherty, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

England have known their best XI for months and there will be no deviating unless someone trips over a sprinkler head, or slips in the nets. No touring team since the great West Indies outfits of the 1980s has been so assured before a series in Australia.

England 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn.

Pitch and conditions

If the results of the Gabba this season are followed, the match won't last five days. The square remains soft from a spring of heavy rain, but the pitch is firm and a light shade of green. Showers are forecast throughout the game, with the cloud cover and extra moisture exciting the bowlers. Ben Hilfenhaus smiled broadly last night when he noticed it was raining. Add in the humidity and temperatures in the high 20s, and it's going to be a contest controlled by the fast men.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be Ricky Ponting's eighth Ashes series but he barely makes it on to the list of most England-Australia matches. Ponting's 31 games sit well behind Syd Gregory (52), Allan Border (47), Steve Waugh (46) and Colin Cowdrey (43).
  • The man at the ground with the most Ashes runs will be Graham Gooch, England's assistant coach. Gooch scored 2632 in 42 games, putting him in 11th spot, one ahead of Greg Chappell, Australia's new selector.
  • In 321 Australia-England Tests, England have won 99 and lost 132. In Australia they have succeeded 54 times, and been defeated on 85 occasions.
  • Anderson is the one visiting bowler who has played a Test in Australia before, but Trott and Prior are the only ones in the top seven who are on their Down Under debuts. Hilfenhaus has featured once at home, while Doherty has played a handful of domestic fixtures in Brisbane


"A batting collapse probably had a big say in us losing the Ashes last time and we're very aware of the fact. We've spoken about it a lot, but sometimes the more you speak about things the harder they become."
Ricky Ponting on his side's recent tendency to lose wickets in big batches

"It's been a big build-up. It's obviously a very exciting thing, the prospect of representing your country in an Ashes series. We're standing here on the edge of it, so the guys are very keen to get amongst it and get off to a good start."
Andrew Strauss

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on November 25, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    Well - Peter Siddle I salute you!!!!! Ashes hat-trick, first since Warney! Hope your crying in your warm beer Landl47 - LOL!!! (I know the Ashes can't be won in one day but hey!)

  • Will on November 24, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    Everyone seems to be forgetting that Bollinger was injured, and he could not bowl when Australia desperately needed him vs India. I would bring him back if and only if he goes the distance in the state match. His average looks impressive, but you cannot judge a bowler on his first 10 tests, before batsman have had a proper look at him.

    P.S. Bollinger was not dropped, George was.

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    Why do all comments always go back to India? It doesn´t make any sense. And it wouldn´t matter if Australia and England were ranked 74 and 75 in the world. This is still the ashes and it is still the most important contest in the game. Ask Australian players if it is more important to win the world cup or the ashes and the ashes would always win. When did cricket become so bloody nationalistic? Why don´t you just enjoy the series or don´t watch it if you don´t like it. India is a good team at the moment. That India has had a couple of good years in test cricket doesn´t make the Ashes irrelevant. It should be a good series in South Africa (although I think SA should win that one at home) but that doesn´t overshadow the Ashes in the slightest.

  • Alex on November 24, 2010, 23:29 GMT

    It is Swann vs aussies. Nothing else. I am not sure aussie batsman can hanlde swann's guile. Swann improved lot.

    Also Strauss batting improved lately because he has not batted against zaheer khan for a while. :). His captaincy is decent.

    Without kevin pieterson firing , england won last ashes. I think kevin will play well in this series and England will beat Aussies.

    The problem with aussies is selection. They have players who can not play well in pressure situation. Before mathew haydon was there to counter attack in any situation with symmonds grafting in middle order.

    Ponting is iffy nowadays but he is still very very good in bad form. Clarke is a grafter and he should play grafter. if he try to be aggressive agaist swann he will fail. Aussies are afraid of failure including the selectors!.

    It could even be 5-0 for england if they apply pressure constantly and play like emotionaless professional team. Say nothing in the media is the key advice for england players.

  • Simon on November 24, 2010, 23:24 GMT

    If Indian fans want to talk about mediocre cricket perhaps they should talk about NZ, oh wait, they nearly lost to them TWICE! And anyway, everytime anyone plays England (including India) there is hype, because there is nothing better than to beat the English in cricket.

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    Bob Simpson once said that there there is never a weak Australian Test side. England will have to be wary and take constant guard against Australia. They are playing at home and Australia will have the crowd behind them. But this is a team without the big names of the past. England too have problems in the batting department and if Pieterson comes good it will inspire the others. But on balance the teams look even with the advantage slightly favoring England. This is so because Australia were beaten by India in the last series and Pakistan, in England, showed that it is possible to play well and rattle the Aussies. Ponting's aura of invincibility is no longer there and if England wins the first Test Australia will be further exposed.

  • Dave on November 24, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    Come on all you Indian fans, if you stopped watching when your team was ranked 4th/5th or lower in the world you would only have seen a handful of series in the past 80 years. ;) Enjoy.

  • John on November 24, 2010, 22:40 GMT

    To all our Indian friends, I'm sorry you don't see why this tournament is so important to Australian and English supporters, but take it from me, it is. If it's any consolation, I have no idea why people in India get excited about a T20 tournament in which the players' only interest is how much they get to put in the bank, but judging from the size of the crowds, they do. Each to his own. Luckily, you don't have to watch the Ashes, because India are playing South Africa. I hope you enjoy that series.

  • Peter on November 24, 2010, 22:38 GMT

    Ashes series over-hyped? Don't understand all the excitement? For goodness sake, where have you BEEN for the last 128 years? Since when have ICC rankings - a very recent gimmick which would certainly appear to be VERY over-hyped - mattered one jot? When West Indies ruled the roost or Australia dominated world cricket, we didn't need ICC rankings to tell us who was at the top - and by some distance in those two cases. At present there is no side standing clear of the field, a very healthy position, with S Africa, England, Sri Lanka & Indiia all about equal in standard and recent results. India's ICC rankings? But the game has died out in that country! Match after match after match - empty grounds! (Pop. over 1 bn, & previously cricket mad). If you like cricket, go to a match! And by match, I mean a Test Match, not one of those meaningless, money-laundering, corrupt and ridiculous T20 irrelevancies going by the name of IPL. Nor an instantly forgettable ODI. Open your eyes, India!

  • Kele on November 24, 2010, 22:23 GMT

    Stop already! Two mediocre teams playing yet another over-hyped, useless series in the name of 'tradition'. Who cares? It was probably relevant 50 years ago. Not anymore. I want to know what percentage of Australian and English population really care about this.

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